thinking about art
/bark bark bark
one of the best shows i have seen in the last few years was the whitney biennal 2004. for one thing, it was a return to beauty and actual skill; a welcome relief from the trend of "it's a drag to be: black, gay, an objectified female, an american ashamed of GWB, *insert your grievance here*. i dont have an issue with "serious content" art but for rotties sake your craftsmanship level should be just as sincere. recently derrick and i found ourselves before a wall of plastic baggies containing all kinds of pubic hair...curly, gray, long ( ! ), reddish, coarse, dyed, super kinky...you get the idea.
i said aloud in the gallery: "am i supposed to respect this shit?"
derrick said : "what a coincidence. i have the same exhibit on my bathroom floor"
we errupted into laughter. some nearby gertie and al earth mother types in sensible shoes and ropes and ropes of chunky old lady jewelry scowled at us and waddled away. of course the artist who collected this gak and bagged it up had some long ass artist statement i didnt want to read explaining why things that are usually flushed down the toilet was art. let me just say it:
if your work requires an 8.5 x 11 single spaced sheet to explain it, you have failed as a visual artist.
An example of art needing no explanation: the image at the top of this post is by fred tomaselli and it is created with thousands of pills and marijuana leaves suspended in liquid lucite. like a helix of pharmacopia..cinema like in scale and quite beautiful. people of all ages and backgrounds stood before it and the comments went something like this:
hey! that's wellbutrin!
look there's valium. sudafed! hydrocodone! vitamin c!
whats that little orange one? baby aspirin
oh my God is that a quaalude? they dont even make those any more! no, you moron that's extra strength excedrin.
whats that pink and black one? generic cyclovore said a voice behind me
even an elderly woman in her St. John suit (how do i know that? i dont know but i do) delighted in pointing out the little pills that were a part of her landscape. did we need an artist statement to tell us we are a drug culture? no. did we need to read on the wall the awesome advertising power the pharmaceutical companies have? no. i rest my case.
turns out Nietzsche was wrong. God ain't dead.
I remember the huge freak out this work inspired.
It's too bad because this work is far from indifferent and shows Serrano to be fully consumed with the body of Christ. so what if in the negative?
I have actually seen this work in the flesh /howl.
the figure is bathed in golden light; suspended into body fluid. it's a beautiful large scale cibachrome photograph. without the famous title would you ever know the attitude of the artist? body fluid.... the body of Christ. is that supposed to be offensive? it isnt. what is piss? it is a miracle of design! theoretically the image is meant as a rebellious sacrelige shocker but the fact is the image has inspired passion on both sides bringing Christ to life in our immediate time in space through lively debate! grrherherhaha. Jesus the counter-subversive. take that Freeeedrick!
and now: an art show conversation translation crib sheet.
a service provided through a generous grant from the R.R. Rottie Foundation.
below please find typical comments you might overhear in a gallery setting, and then the translation inside the *'s.
wow. you have really developed this theme of yours.
*you haven't had a new idea in 10 years. loser*
its so cool how comfortable you are with your body.
you really deserved that review you got in art papers
*you're old and they finally gave you some mercy ink*
such a dark sensibility.
*are you on drugs again?*
so reminds me of matisse's studio paintings.
*you lazy derivitive punk*
i love the colors!
*i have no clue what this work is about*
what an amazing surface.
*you can't draw*
this work is really deep.
this work is so sensual. i love your brush strokes. it really touches me.
*i'd like to sleep with you*
nice show! i'll definitely be back!
*when hell freezes over*
Movies about artists that i recommend in no particular order:
"the big lebowski" features one of my favorite celluloid artists of all time. julianne moore as maud lebowski. she plays it spot on as a weird vaginacentric artist who makes her work while hanging nude from wires. i love how she talks, looks and the hangers-on in her entourage. its perfect. this is a good movie in so many ways. i guarantee ya you all know someone like "the dude"
"bird" the story of charlie parker. starring forest whitaker. excellent. in fact forest whitaker is good in everything.
"Amadeus" the best thing about this story of mozart is it shows how the nature of humanity is that brilliance and debauchery often go hand and hand. much to the horror of the character soliari who prays constantly to God for favor, while deceitfully plotting to undermine mozart. it doesnt work that way, man. God knows what he's doing. people are both beautiful and horrifying.
"rivers and tides" its a documentary about andy goldsworthy who makes art with only things from the earth. amazing amazing beautiful work that brings attention and glory to the most ordinary things.
"basquiat" a near perfect movie chock full o great actors. probably one of the most honest looks at the art world ever filmed. the scene where the rich couple comes to his studio to buy a painting is outstanding. david bowie plays andy warhol; gary oldman as julian schnabel; benicio del torro as basquiats herion addicted artist friend; parker posey as mary boone (big shot art dealer); willem dafoe as a barely holding on artist.....many more. see it.
"adaptation" a movie about a writer of screenplays and a writer of a book. one of the best movies i have ever seen. it has a close kinship with amadeus in that art often comes out of the least expected place.
"frida" i should write a whole post just on the tango between selma hayek and ashley judd. (soft) grrrr and howl!
its so beautifully filmed and true to the nature of frida. the bus crash scene where the gold leaf swirls all around while everybody in the wreck is hurt killed and/or impaled is memorable. directed by julie taymor, the woman who designed lion king for the stage, it is a valentine to a great artist. thanks to the ladies for this gift of a movie.
i would recommend "pollock" but i was so depressed after seeing it that i couldnt even be trusted with my little blue bic. but i think it was good. somebody even won an oscar.
final thought: if i had one wish to come true today, it would be that someone would develop some software that would read all my favorite blogs to me while i worked.